Thursday, March 14, 2013

How to Prepare for an International Career Before You Graduate

By Meagan Maddock, senior double major in international affairs (with a concentration in Latin America) and women & gender studies at CU-Boulder

For most people, it is not common to jump headfirst into a career abroad right after college. Many have to commit to unpaid internships, volunteering, and deal with a lot of uncertainty before securing an actual career in a different country. However, there are steps students can take to make the process more effective, and to increase chances of landing an international career out of college.  Below are some steps to take before you graduate to build your resume and put you a few steps ahead on the path to an international career.

Study Abroad
Study Abroad’s value cannot be emphasized enough! It can be incredibly influential in forming your future career goals and opportunities. It has the potential to clarify the direction you’d like to take and strengthen skills that will benefit you when you begin your job search upon your return. Study abroad offers unique opportunities that are impossible to come by in your home country: language immersion, increasing cultural competency, networking with international organizations, gaining familiarity with the region, etc.

Join a Student Group
There are a ton of student groups on campus that focus on international issues. Get involved, and, if possible, take on a leadership position. This will further your expertise on international issues, as well as add some oomph to your resume. Amnesty International, International Affairs Club, and Global Fusion are just a few of your options.

Intern or Volunteer Abroad
Interning can help you decide if a certain career path is right for you, as well as give you an inside look at how organizations operate in other countries.
  • Gain valuable skills through challenging, unique experiences that would not be possible in your home country.
  • Learn to conceptualize, articulate, and think critically about your intern/volunteer experience through service learning courses.
  • CU offers various study abroad programs that include internships, service learning, or volunteer opportunities. Take advantage of these opportunities!

Informational Interviews
Research local internationally-focused organizations and set up informational interviews with them. Come to Career Services and talk to a Career Counselor about how to conduct informational interviews if you are unsure about the process:

Network, Network, Network!
 Speak with alumni of study abroad, volunteer abroad, and internship programs and ask how their experience has influenced their career path.
  • Go to events related to your career interest and network with other attendees.
  • Gather contact information for everyone you meet who could expand your network and/or serve as a reference when looking for internships or jobs later.

For more information and resources regarding international employment, please visit our website at: